Heart and Circulatory System
1 AnswerAnthony Komaroff, MD, Internal Medicine, answeredThe aorta, the body's largest blood vessel, is almost the diameter of a garden hose. A network of coronary arteries, each about as thick as a strand of spaghetti, emerges from the aorta. These arteries branch into smaller and smaller vessels that eventually penetrate the heart muscle, supplying it with oxygen and nutrients.
1 AnswerIf you have CAD, there are steps you can take to lower your risk for having a heart attack or worsening heart disease. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes such as eating a healthier diet, exercising and not smoking.
Medications may also be necessary. Medicines can treat CAD risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat and low blood flow. In some cases, more advanced treatments and surgical procedures can help restore blood flow to the heart.
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The femoral artery runs through the femoral triangle portion of the upper medial thigh, just beneath the crease of the leg. The femoral artery runs between the femoral vein and the femoral nerve.
(This answer provided for NATA by the University of Tampa Athletic Training Education Program)
1 AnswerPeripheral vascular disease can cause numbness and tingling in the legs. Sciatica can be a cause of numbness and tingling because it is a bulging or herniated disc that pushes on the sciatic nerve that runs from your buttocks to your lower leg and into the ankle. Compartment syndrome could also be a cause because the increased pressure on the nerves in the area can cause numbness. (This answer provided for NATA by the Eastern University Athletic Training Education Program)
- Home blood pressure monitors should be checked regularly to make sure they are working right. You may wish to take your monitor to your doctor's office or health department to compare blood pressure readings. This is also a good time to have a health professional watch you take your blood pressure to make sure that you are doing it correctly.
- Your blood pressure may go up and down from day to day and from moment to moment. Blood pressure tends to be higher in the morning and lower at night. Stress, smoking, eating, exercise, cold, pain, noise, medicines and even talking can affect it. A single high reading does not mean you have high blood pressure (hypertension), and a single normal reading does not necessarily mean you do not have high blood pressure. The average of several repeated measurements throughout the day is more accurate than a single reading.
- Do not adjust your blood pressure medicines based on home blood pressure readings unless your doctor tells you to.
- Talk to your doctor about how often you should monitor your blood pressure. Early detection and treatment with a combination of medicine and lifestyle changes (weight loss, diet, exercise, stress reduction) may reduce the health risks caused by high blood pressure. If you are being treated for high blood pressure, you may only need to check your blood pressure once a week or less often. You may want to check your blood pressure more often if your blood pressure is not well-controlled or if you are taking different medicines or changing doses of a medicine.
- Most people will have some difference in the blood pressure between the right and the left arm. But if you have a large difference (greater than 20 mm Hg), talk to your doctor about what this may mean.
- Some types of blood pressure monitors can store the results of your test and transfer this information to your computer. Some can relay these readings over a phone line to your doctor's office.
- Blood pressure monitors that measure your blood pressure in your finger or your wrist are not usually accurate and are not recommended.
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Reasons you may not be able to do home blood pressure monitoring or why the results may not be helpful include:
- You have poor hearing or eyesight. An electronic arm- or wrist-cuff model may be a better choice for you.
- You cannot put the cuff on or twist the dial to inflate the cuff.
- The cuff is either too large or too small for your arm.
Blood pressure normally goes up and down from day to day and even from minute to minute, depending upon how active you are, whether you are standing up or sitting down and what medicines you are taking. Other things that can change blood pressure include being too hot or too cold, whether you have recently eaten and whether you are relaxed or feeling stressed.
Home blood pressure monitoring works best when you also record your daily activities, such as the time you take medicine, or if you feel upset or stressed, in a diary. This can help explain changes in your blood pressure readings and help your doctor adjust your medicines.
Your blood pressure may only be high when you go to your doctor's office. This is called white-coat (or office) hypertension and may be caused by stress about seeing your doctor. When you regularly check your blood pressure at home, you may find that your blood pressure is lower when you are not at the doctor's office.
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Before you take your blood pressure
- Don't eat, smoke or exercise for at least 30 minutes before you take your blood pressure. And don't use any medicines that can raise blood pressure, such as certain nasal sprays.
- Rest at least 5 minutes before you take a reading. Sit in a comfortable, relaxed position with both feet on the floor. Don't move or talk while you are measuring your blood pressure.
- Try not to take your blood pressure if you are nervous or upset.
- If you can, use the same arm for every reading. Readings may be 10 to 20 mm Hg different between your right arm and your left arm.
Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring
If you have an ambulatory blood pressure monitor, you do not need to do anything to prepare. The monitor will automatically take your blood pressure while you do your normal daily activities.
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1 AnswerNatalia Rost, MD, Neurology, answeredThe brain relies on a steady supply of oxygenated blood to perform its myriad tasks -- everything from coordinating your arm and leg movements as you walk down a street to allowing you to appreciate the complexity of language in a favorite novel. Because maintaining a steady blood supply is so important, multiple blood vessels snake into and around the brain, ensuring that even if one blood vessel becomes narrowed or damaged, alternate delivery routes still exist.